Anne Hampton Brewsters St. Martins summer and utopian literary discourses


Anne Hampton Brewster’s relatively unknown St. Martin’s Summer (1866), based on her European Grand Tour, contributes to discussions of utopian literary discourses. Employing the theoretical lenses of Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor and Tom Moylan, including Michel Foucault’s notion of heterotopias, this article demonstrates how Brewster’s revision of her travel notebook and cultural situations she witnessed provided opportunities for personal change. The novel’s focus on a community of women and a final chapter onboard a clipper in the Atlantic reverberate with “floating island” imagery and contest traditional notions of marriage, exploration, and travels home. Attention to characters’ political engagement (including that of a fictional Robert Dale Owen), dream visions that transport characters through time and space, and comments on marriage set the stage for examining the novel’s frames. A self-reflexive preface prevents the final chapter from being seen as fixed and dissolves into consideration of Brewster’s composing process. These suggest how Brewster’s dialectical movement between journal and novel enabled her to look both backward and forward, envisioning possible futures, and to launch herself from a life of entrapment. Brewster left Philadelphia to become a newspaper correspondent in Rome, beginning in 1868 and continuing for two decades, engaged with the political situation around her.



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Anne Hampton Brewster, Critical utopias, Feminist utopias, Heterotopia, Robert Dale Owen

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Journal Title

Utopian Studies